By Olivia Rizzo
Imagine being able to charge your smartphone, laptop, tablet and MP3 player without needing a wall charger or chords. All of that may soon be possible thanks to last year’s Mayo Business Plan Competition winner SolarKick. Senior electrical engineering major Eric Blow, alumnus Greg Fitz, senior mechanical engineering major Luke Capritti and alumnus Steven Lemingthe, the students behind SolarKick, were awarded first place and $16,500 toward its business plan. The group debuted its first prototype, a solar panel that can be attached to an iPhone case to charge the phone while the user is away, during the business competition. SolarKick plans to make similar solar charging devices for all different types of electronic devices.
Just a few months after its contest win, the SolarKick team was extended the opportunity to be a part of the pilot program Uncommon Individual Foundation, a mentor program that strives to create strong and personal mentor to protégé relationships in order to help the protégé succeed. Additionally, the team has been able to meet with Innovative Mechanical & Electrical Technology Corporation, a circuit board manufacturing company whose president is an alumnus of the College. SolarKick has also begun to consult with an attorney in order to file as a limited liability company and are in the process of meeting with a patent lawyer.
“It has been a very exciting experience,” Fitz said. “While studying for exams, participating in clubs and preparing for full-time jobs and internships, it was a surreal experience being able to compete (in) and win the Mayo Business Plan Contest.”
The SolarKick team recommends participating in the Mayo Business Plan Contest because it allows you to put what you learn in class toward something you are passionate about. The contest allows groups of students to come up with real business plans and try to make it to the final round where a panel of judges determines the winning business plan.
“It is exciting to learn new skills while applying what we learned from TCNJ,” Fitz said as he reflected on his experience with the business competition.
Fitz also noted how every possible new employer that he interviewed with, whether it was just for an internship or a full-time job, was always interested in the idea behind SolarKick and the business competition itself.
The competition has been a great way for all members of the SolarKick team to get their foot in the door of the business world while gaining some good real-world experience.
Fitz is currently working as a Credit Analyst at New Jersey Economic Development Authority, and is in the process of studying for the GMAT’s and will be applying for graduate school. Leming is working at KPMG, a tax audit and advisory firm, and has successfully passed the first part of the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. Capritti and Blow are finishing their senior years at the College. Capritti will be working on the SAE Supermileage for his senior project, and Blow will be working on RF Photonic Neuron Network.
The next step for SolarKick is to apply for a full patent. This is an expensive endeavor so the team is weighing its options carefully as they go forward to pursue the patent. They look forward to being mentored by Uncommon Individual Foundation and are planning on producing market ready prototypes if their upcoming meetings go well.